JIM SALTER, AP
Darren Wilson, 28, had been on administrative leave since Aug. 9, when he shot and killed Michael Brown. A grand jury decided Monday not to indict Wilson, sparking days of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson and other cities across the U.S.
Wilson wrote in his resignation letter that his “continued employment may put the residents and police officers of the City of Ferguson at risk, which is a circumstance I cannot allow.”
His lawyer, Neil Bruntrager, told The Associated Press that Wilson decided to step aside after police Chief Tom Jackson told him about the alleged threats on Saturday.
“The information we had was that there would be actions targeting the Ferguson (police) department or buildings in Ferguson related to the police department,” Bruntrager said. He said Wilson, who had worked for the department for less than three years, and the city were already discussing an exit strategy, acknowledging that staying on as an officer there would be impossible.
Ferguson’s mayor said Sunday that Wilson did not receive any severance package. Wilson won’t receive any further pay or benefits, and he and the city have severed their ties, Mayor James Knowles told reporters a day after Wilson tendered his resignation, effective immediately.
Many have criticized the authorities’ handling of the case, but Knowles said no leadership changes were in the works. Asked if he would resign, Jackson said flatly, “No.”
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Brown’s family, said Wilson’s resignation was not a surprise.
“It was always believed that the police officer would do what was in his best interest, both personally and professionally,” Crump said. “We didn’t believe that he would be able to be effective for the Ferguson community nor the Ferguson Police Department because of the tragic circumstances that claimed the life of Michael Brown Jr.”
Crump said the family is still considering civil litigation such as a wrongful death lawsuit, “but don’t let that get confused with the fact that they really wanted the killer of their child to be held accountable.”
On Saturday night, more than 100 protesters gathered near Ferguson police headquarters, where they were outnumbered by officers. Two people were arrested. Another protester burned an American flag. By midnight, only about two dozen protesters remained. Many seemed unfazed by Wilson’s resignation. Several merely shrugged their shoulders when asked what they thought.
Wilson has spent his entire adult life as a police officer, first in neighboring Jennings, then in Ferguson. Bruntrager said it’s all he’s ever wanted to do.
“In terms of what it (the resignation) means, it means at this point he doesn’t have a paycheck,” Bruntrager said. “He has no income so he’ll have to make some decisions pretty quickly.”